Shepton Mallet Prison

Frithfield Lane, BA4 5LU

Description

Built in 1610 following on Act introduced by King James I, which stated that all counties had to have their own ‘House of Correction’; Shepton Mallet was the oldest working prison in the United Kingdom up until its closure at the end of March 2013. The land was purchased from Reverend Edward Barnards for a cost of £160. 

The House of correction would hold men women and children together.  Debtors, thieves, ‘misfits’, vagrants and people with mental health disorders were sentenced to long periods.  There are very few records of the conditions inside, many people could not read and write and it was not considered necessary to keep a record of ‘matters of such distaste’. Conditions and favours by jailors resulted in promiscuous behaviour, lax discipline and drunken behaviour. 

Primitive sanitation led to regular outbreaks of gaol fever, ulcers, jaundice, asthma, itch and venereal diseases.  The only real medical aid was the local surgeon (doctor) being called in to pronounce a death.  Following any deaths within the house of correction bodies were taken to an unconsecrated burial ground just outside the prison, the door in the wall on Frithfield lane still exists as do 9 unmarked graves within the grounds. It was common practice with British executions to bury prisoners in this way. 

The prison has a long history of death sentences being carried out under methods including HDQ, hanged and by firing squad.  The Hanging room which still exists, though has been used as office space for many years. Following the Monmouth Rebellion of 1642-1685 at least 12 Shepton men were HDQ for having sympathised with the rebels, their bowels were burned and their heads placed on poles around the town. 

The last death sentence at Shepton Prison occurred in 1945 under military use.  The last civilian hanged there was John Lincoln in 1926, for fatally shooting 25 year old Edward Richards in Trowbridge on 24th December 1925.  The list of executioners used included Thomas and Albert Pierrepoint. The gallows were removed in 1967 after the return of the prison to civilian use in 1966.

The prison closed in 1930 due to under use; it held an average of just 51 prisoners.  It re-opened in 1939 as a British military prison.  It soon housed 300 men from all armed services, some being placed in huts in the prison yard.  Between 1942-1945 it was run as an American military prison, housing 768 soldiers. At the end of 1944, it was guarded by 12 officers and 82 enlisted men. 18 American servicemen were executed, 16 hanged and 2 shot by firing squad.

It returned to British military use in September 1945, used primarily for servicemen due to be discharged after serving their sentence.  Soldiers held there included the Kray twins who were serving out their national service after absconding, it was here they met Charlie Richardson. 

Shepton Mallet prison is believed to have housed the Domesday book and Magna Carta, the HMS Victory logbooks and the Olive Branch Petition during the War. Over 300 documents were housed there at one point, some were moved (not including the Domesday book) when Bristol and Bath began being hit by German bombs – the documents were spread to different locations to reduce the risk of the entire collection being destroyed.

The last reported escape was in 1993, three prisoners descended the prison wall using knotted sheets after tunneling through a two foot wall, and they were soon recaptured.  The earliest escape on record was in 1765. At 75 feet high the prison has some of the highest walls in the prison estate.

 


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Opening Hours

January to December

 

Pricing

Self Guided Tours
Adult - £15
Concession and Student - £13
Children - (5-15) - £9.50
Family - £43.50

2 Hour Guided Tours
Adult - £18
Concession and Students - £16
Children - (5-15) - £12.50
Family - £47.50
 

Facilities

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              PET INFORMATION

                ROOM & UNIT FEATURES

                  SPECIALIST FEATURES

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                        WEDDING

                          • Accept Bank Transfers, Internet Payment or SWIFT/IBAN

                          • Accept Children Over 3

                          • All major credit cards accepted

                          • Can be packages by 3rd parties

                          • Cash & Cheque accepted

                          • Cash & Cheque only

                          • Coach drop-off point

                          • Contactless payment accepted

                          • Delta accepted

                          • Demonstrations Given

                          • Dog Friendly

                          • Dogs Accepted

                          • Educational Visits Accepted

                          • Event venue

                          • Families

                          • Family Fun

                          • Free car parking

                          • Groups

                          • Guided Tours Available for Groups

                          • Guided Tours Available for Individuals

                          • In town/city centre

                          • Indoor Attraction

                          • Maestro accepted

                          • Marketed towards children

                          • Marketed towards families

                          • Marketed towards senior citizens

                          • Marketed towards student/youth

                          • MasterCard accepted

                          • Min group size

                          • On site parking

                          • Open All Year

                          • Open by appointment outside normal opening times

                          • Packed lunches available

                          • Parking (free)

                          • Picnic Area

                          • Room/unit allocations available

                          • Shop

                          • Smoking Some Areas

                          • Solo accepted

                          • Stag and Hen Parties

                          • Tea / Coffee Shop

                          • Tea Room

                          • Toilets

                          • Visa accepted

                          • Wedding Venue

                          Offers

                          Kids go Free for Half Term!

                          Kids go Free for Half Term!kids-20go-20free-20van-202.jpg

                          Dates - now to Sunday 1st September – Summer Holiday
                           
                          All self guiding adults pay just £10 per person and with every paying adult a child goes free... additional children just £5.

                          A two hour Guided Tour is also available daily at 2pm and at 11am and 2pm on the weekends.

                          To book your guided tour or enquire about an experience, please call 01743 343100 or visit www.sheptonmalletprison.com

                          Additionally, 
                          • Packed lunches are not available
                          • There is a small charge (£3) for onsite car parking
                          • All children are welcome not just over 3s.

                          More General Visit Somerset Offers »

                          Contact

                          Shepton Mallet Prison
                          Frithfield Lane
                          Shepton Mallet
                          BA4 5LU
                          United Kingdom


                          T: 01743 343100

                          E: info@sheptonmalletprison.com

                          W: sheptonmalletprison.com

                          Facebook: @HMPSheptonMallet/

                          Twitter: @JailhouseTours



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